Before the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc around the world, the global events industry generated an estimated $1.13 trillion in 2019, and post-pandemic, is expected to recover and reach more than $1.5 trillion by 2028.
The global events industry is expected to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.2 percent from 2021 to 2028.
That is the rosy forecast from a March 2021 Allied Research Market report, and Puerto Rico is looking forward to having a nice slice of that trillion-dollar market, once the pandemic is over.
In terms of the current COVID-19 scenario, the report notes that the Covid-19 pandemic and followed lockdowns have negatively impacted the event industry, as countries around the world imposed strict travel restrictions. Moreover, worldwide adoption of work from home and restrictions on public gatherings hampered the industry.
However, virtual events gained popularity during the pandemic as market players aimed to strengthen their digital presence.
At the same time, vaccination rates against COVID-19 have continued apace in Puerto Rico, the United States and many countries, raising hopes that despite the recent increase in positivity rates – due in large part to the delta variant and many people who still refuse to be vaccinated – that the pandemic will slow down and the crisis will abate.
With that in mind, the events industry is looking forward to a sunnier 2022.
Puerto Rico is officially open for meetings and conventions once again, as anti-COVID measures continue and the island has surpassed the 60 percent rate in local vaccinations. That is the message that officials want the world to know.
With an ambitious promotional agenda, ASM Global and the Puerto Rico Convention District Authority jointly announced the launching of a strategic communications campaign featuring the Puerto Rico Convention Center (PRCC) and the iconic Antiguo Casino building.
“We are very excited to unveil this new campaign as part of an aggressive effort with our government and industry partners to continue driving the momentum we are already seeing. The Puerto Rico Convention Center has to become one of the top venues worldwide in the meetings and conventions segment,” said Jorge Pérez, regional manager for ASM Global.
The new joint advertising campaign will entail an investment from CARES Act funds, and will include executions in print, digital, social media and “out of home,” which includes billboards and posters in such venues as airports, subways and taxis.
Focus on Cleanliness and Safety
ASM Global also developed and implemented Best-in-Class environmental hygiene, disinfection and safety programs and protocols, proprietary to ASM VenueShield and GBAC Gold Star, across 325 venues globally as well as Puerto Rico.
In Puerto Rico, ASM Global operates the most important event arenas locally – the Puerto Rico Convention Center, the Coliseum of Puerto Rico, the Antiguo Casino, and the recently inaugurated Coca-Cola Music Hall at the Distrito T-Mobile at the Convention District.
VenueShield provides the most advanced hygienic safeguards and health and safety protocols covering areas such as environmental hygiene, technology and equipment, communication and public awareness, food safety, customer experience, workforce safety and temperature screening, according to ASM Global. The measures also contemplate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), food safety measures, air quality control, surface cleaning, physical/social distancing, temperature checks, thermal cameras, hand sanitizers, reduced touch points, contactless transactions, daily monitoring systems, and more.
According to Pérez, other capital and facility and infrastructure improvements completed during the lockdown months included: carpet replacement, air purification systems and HVAC improvements, and installing disinfecting safety stations and educational signage to help ensure visitors have peace of mind as they return for events and activities at these venues.
“We want the world to know that Puerto Rico is open for business. We have taken advantage of mandatory closings to make the necessary investments and our facilities are ready to host inbound meetings and events. Visitors will find improved facilities, more entertainment options and most of all, a safe environment to avoid COVID infections,” said Mariela Vallines Fernández, executive director at the Puerto Rico Conventions District Authority.
Other facility investments include improvements in network connectivity with a new state-of-the-art wireless network, designed with robust and scalable 5G capable architecture, ensuring that the visitors attending conferences, meetings and other special events have reliable and seamless connectivity throughout the entire convention center.
“Network connectivity plays a crucial role within the Convention Center and has been a major focus of operation for us,” said Jorge L. Pérez, ASM general manager, Puerto Rico Convention Center. “Deploying a new state-of-the-art wireless network is a complex undertaking. We’re excited to provide visitors, exhibitors and conferences with an unmatched network experience while visiting PRCC.”
Forecast for a Quick Rebound
According to Pérez, there are several events and conventions already scheduled for the next six months at the PRCC with a potential economic impact of 35,000 room nights. Despite early industry predictions that the recuperation of the meetings, incentives, conventions and events segment (MICE) could take years, Puerto Rico seems to be experiencing a quick rebound.
Encouraged by COVID vaccinations, Discover Puerto Rico has reported a substantial increase in interest in the destination, with double digit increases in lead volume during the first quarter of 2021 and generating hundreds of prospects for the remainder of the year.
Discover Puerto Rico’s current portfolio of active prospects is at 96 percent of where it was in July 2019, with an estimated economic impact of $262.1 million for the island. From July 2020 to March 2021, the most active segments interested in Puerto Rico are health and medicine, finance and insurance, high technology, meeting shopping and sports.
New entertainment options include the Distrito T-Mobile, adjacent to the PRCC, recently built at a cost of over $175 million. It features a new 177-room Aloft hotel, eight movie theaters with a total capacity for 800 people, the Coca Cola Music Hall, a central plaza with a 4k horizontal display - the largest in the hemisphere, an indoor zipline and restaurants, among other amenities.
“As a meetings destination, Puerto Rico is a place like no other. We offer an unparalleled combination of the best meeting infrastructure, hi-speed internet and 5G, world class gastronomy, natural attractions, great hotels and new state of the art entertainment options like the Distrito T-Mobile, providing a complete experience for visitors,” Pérez said.
Hosting Connect Marketplace 2022
Meanwhile, Discover Puerto Rico announced that the island will be the host of Connect Marketplace 2022, bringing approximately 2,000 tourism and hospitality professionals to the island. The event will take place May 22-23, 2022, at the Puerto Rico Convention Center, utilizing numerous hotel properties and Distrito T-Mobile, with an estimated economic impact of $3 million.
“As the meetings industry experiences a great deal of change and transformation, Puerto Rico is positioned to play a key role in the recovery of this important segment. This event positions Puerto Rico well to accelerate the recovery of our island by hosting key buyers and enlightening them on all that Puerto Rico has to offer,” according to Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico.
Connect Meetings is an organization that provides planners and suppliers with education and professional development to advance their careers while conducting business through one-on-one marketplace appointments. This event is expected to generate over 35,000 one-on-one business appointments between meeting and hospitality professionals, attracting people from the United States and beyond, representing the following markets: Corporate, Financial, Technology and Insurance; Associations; Sports Diversity; Women in Sports; Luxury/Incentive; and Citywide.
“Connect is very excited to go to Puerto Rico next year. It’s always been a great destination to bring events, but the addition of Distrito T-Mobile takes it to a whole new level. We look forward to working with Discover Puerto Rico to activate a great conference for 2,000 members of the best event professionals in the industry,” said Chris Collinson, president of Connect Meetings.